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Clowns to the Left of Me Jokers to the Right… Irresponsible and

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a short post today about some of the most remarkable comments about the massacre in Las Vegas. Truthfully, I am still trying to get my head around what happened; and since there is as yet no evidence of why Stephen Paddock committed this heinous act I am still perplexed by it. I cannot imagine anyone whether they were in their right mind or not deciding to meticulously plan and execute such a cold blooded massacre. I can say that it was an act of unequivocal evil and had it been perpetrated by a Muslim, an undocumented alien, or an African American there would be more outrage and you can bet that people who in the immediate aftermath of the massacre said it shouldn’t be politicized would have politicized the hell out of it.

But instead of outrage I see Alex Jones blaming it on “the deep state,” Pat Robertson blaming it on “a lack of respect for President Trump and the flag,” Bill O’Reilly saying it was “the price of freedom,” Senator John Thune seemingly blaming the victims saying that “they should have made themselves smaller,” and a CBS News legal counsel said that she had no sympathy because “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans are often republican gun toters.” At least CBS fired her within hours of her abominable comments. However, I honestly doubt that any supporter of Robertson, Jones, Thune, or O’Reilly, would demand that they be fired. Of course there were a host of others that said that the shooting was part of God’s judgment or blamed people for any of a number of half-baked theological reasons.

The terrible thing about the commentators was that none of them seemed to give a damn about the victims, or those who lost loved ones or friends in this. For these soulless hacks it is all about finding blame and exculpating themselves from any responsibility when they all through their constant political invective and promotion of conspiracy theories help prepare the way for people to justify the massacre of so many people. In fact other right wing outlets like the Gateway Pundit seemed almost gleeful when they made a false identification of the shooter as “Registered Democrat and anti-Trump partisan.” They had to delete their posts and articles because they blamed the wrong person. But for a while they certainly defamed and libeled an innocent man all in the hope of making a cheap political point.

So anyway, I am frustrated and angry about those who make such comments, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that we shouldn’t debate the politics of the availability of the weapons and devices that made Stephen Paddock’s assault so deadly. As a career military officer I cannot imagine why we allow weapons like those used by Paddock, modified military weapons that have only one purpose: efficiently killing people in mass numbers, to be legal. I’ll probably write more about the subject another time, but the irresponsibility of ideologues only makes events like this even more tragic.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Confederate Army Strong? I Think Not

fort-sumter-bombardmentAttack on Ft Sumpter 

“THE CAUSE of the great War of the Rebellion against the United Status will have to be attributed to slavery. For some years before the war began it was a trite saying among some politicians that “A state half slave and half free cannot exist.” All must become slave or all free, or the state will go down. I took no part myself in any such view of the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole question, I have come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.” ― Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs, Vol. 2

I have served my country, not just Red or Blue States or members of either major political party, or minor political party for 32 years. I have served and as a Chaplain have guarded the religious and free speech rights of Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Atheists and Agnostics as a Chaplain for 21 of those years.

My family on my mother’s side came to the British Colonies in North America in  the 1680s or 1690s from England and France. My father’s family came in the 1740s from Scotland. During the War for Independence much of my family fought for the colonies or was neutral and some were Tories. One of my direct relatives lived in Philadelphia and worked as a supply officer for the Colonial Army throughout the war. He is buried not far from Benjamin Franklin and other heroes of the Revolution in the Christ Church Cemetery in Philadelphia, something that get’s me free admittance to the historic site anytime that I am in the city.

Those that were Tories ended up in  what is not Canada after the war. I even had distant relatives who were British Redcoats, one a Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas, later Major General Sir Thomas Dundas commanded one of Lord Cornwallis’ brigades at Yorktown and was one of two British Officers who arranged the surrender at Yorktown.

Thus said my family has a long pedigree in this country and when the war of the Souther Slaveholder Rebellion broke out in 1861 I had family on both sides of the conflict. Most served in the Confederacy, though the part of Virginia they lived in seceded from the Commonwealth because Virginia seceded from the Union.

All this being said I can claim my heritage as a Son of the American Revolution or a Son of the Confederacy.

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Today I saw something that made my blood boil. As I said I have served this country for 32 years in both the Army and the Navy. Part of my service has included time in both the Virginia and Texas Army National Guard. In my time in Virginia or Texas the units that I served traced their linage to either the 1st or 5 Texas Regiments of Hood’s Brigade or the 2nd or 17th Virginia Regiments which fought under Jackson or Pickett during that war.

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As I was saying I saw something today that made my blood boil. I saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck at the local Home Depot that looked a bit like the US Army “Army Strong” complete with the star featured on the Army bumper sticker. However this one was different. It said “Confederate Army Strong.” To be fair I have seen this sticker on a number of vehicles in Virginia over the past few years but this one got me. The man also has numerous other Confederate or neo-Confederate stickers as well as partisan political comments and conspiracy theory comments about 9-11 being an “inside job” as well as a sticker for the conspiracy theory nutcase Alex Jones’ “Info Wars” website.

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What I find offensive about the “Confederate Army Strong” sticker is that it is a slap in the face to all who died to preserve the Union. Likewise it is the symbol of a political movement designed to promote, defend and expand an economic system built on slavery using the language of “States Rights.” That being said those states and their political leaders who claimed “States Rights” only cared about their own rights and in the decade leading up to the War of the Slaveholders Rebellion, now known as the Civil War used Federal statutes against non-slave States whenever they needed to and fought for tougher Federal laws to keep their “freedom” to maintain slavery.

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Freed Union Prisoner at Andersonville

The fact is that the Confederate Army was responsible for the more deaths and other casualties than all other enemies of the United States before or after the War of the Slaveholders Rebellion. The real fact is that those “noble Confederates” like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and others that by the way included men from my family who owned slaves were rebels who when they did not like the result of an elected seceded from the Union and declared war on their fellow citizens in order to maintain their racist economic and political power. They were not about due process or the will of the people, but their will.

These were the same men who condoned the atrocities committed at places like Andersonville and Belle Isle and when they invaded non-slave states had no qualms about taking any black men, women and children from their homes and sending them to the South, even if the were Free Men and not escaped slaves.

However it is now impolitic to say this. But that is the case and whenever I see such displays of hatred against the country, constitution and citizens who I have sworn an oath to support and defend “against all enemies foreign and domestic” for 32 years I get angry.

I saw the man get into his vehicle and almost confronted him, but in the current climate had I done so I would have been the person condemned in the hate filled right wing media and blogosphere which wants nothing more than to have anyone connected to the Federal Government look like they are being intolerant. Such is the victim culture of many on the political right.

So I held back, took a picture of his stickers and went on my way. I have been far too busy trying to catch up on things left unattended by the past 7 years of service to this nation which has cost me much of my mind, my health and finances being away from home, deployed to Iraq or serving as a geographic bachelor, the latter alone which has cost me over $50,000 that I will never get back. Likewise I figured out that the last 17 years of my military career I have been away from home for 10 years. Since I returned from Iraq I have had to deal with the “Mad Cow” of PTSD.

Thus when I see some old fat codger running around spouting hate who probably has not served a day in uniform, or if he did served an enlistment and then got out I get pissed off. To tell the truth I think that I have good reason. There are times that I think that maybe William Tecumseh Sherman was too gentle on the South and that maybe the Radical Reconstructionists like Thaddeus Stevens were right about the South and what needed to be done to eradicate slavery and restore the Union.

Now that is not me, I am more of a Lincoln “with malice toward none and with charity toward all” kind of person. As a soldier I can be gracious toward a defeated enemy.  But when I see that thrown back in my face by the neo-Confederates of my day I wonder if maybe I and men like Sherman, Grant, Hancock and Chamberlain were wrong. Maybe the rebels should have been tried, executed, exiled or imprisoned for their crimes against the Constitution and their fellow citizens.

That being said Grant noticed how the landed elites of the South not only enslaved the blacks but used poor whites who had nothing to gain from their economics or slavery. The sad thing is the descendants of those who enslaved blacks and used poor whites as their political and later military fodder are at it again. Grant noted:

“The great bulk of the legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the contest was very meagre–what there was, if they had been capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of slave-owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according to direction.”

It really is a sad state of affairs and I grieve for the United States. To think I swear on my life an honor to ensure that all citizens have their right to freedom of speech including the man with his message of hate. However I don’t think that he or others like him would  do the same for me.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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The Day After the Boston Marathon Attack: No Answers and Many Questions

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Two bombs. Three dead. 177 wounded. Many questions and no answers. That is what we know. The attack on the Boston Marathon yesterday was certainly an act of terrorism. The questions though are who did it and why?

We now know something about the devices used in the attack. Pressure cookers loaded with smokeless gunpowder, ball bearings and nails placed in back packs or gym bags. Crude yet powerful and deadly. Improvised explosive devices designed to kill and maim innocent, unsuspecting people. The FBI is taking the residue from the devices to reconstruct them.

Such devices have been used in terrorist attacks both overseas and in this country before. They are crude but effective. They could be the product of any terrorist group, foreign or domestic as well as a “lone wolf” attack of a person with no connection to an organized terrorist group.

Motive of course will be determined once someone or a group claims credit for the attack. Since no one has yet claimed credit we can only speculate who they are and why they did this. Obvious suspects include Al Qaeda or one of its affiliate groups, other terrorist groups affiliated with a foreign government opposed to US policies, a domestic terrorist group with any number of possible motives or a lone wolf terrorist with no direct connections to any group. As of right now we have no idea who might be the responsible group or individual. All is speculation at this point. Thus we must not jump to any conclusions and let a careful and thorough investigation examine all the forensic evidence and discover the leads needed to find the responsible parties and bring them to justice.

There have been some that have been quick to name certain groups at the perpetrators. Unfortunately without solid evidence or any claim of responsibility such charges only serve to stir emotions and create a situation where justice could be impressed and innocent people blamed.

Some of the most popular theories posited by some involve Al Qaeda or any number of other Islamic terrorist groups. There is good reason for this because of the history of such groups behavior. However the thing that makes me doubt that is that no Islamic group has claimed credit. Normally these groups are quick to claim credit for attacks on the “infidels” and justify the attacks using past American attacks or insults to them or Islam. Since no claims of credit from any Al Qaeda linked group have been forthcoming I believe that the chances become less likely every day that this is the case.

There are numerous other possibilities, foreign and domestic, affiliated with a known terrorist group, organization or hostile government or an individual acting on his own accord. Thus before jumping to a conclusion it is important to let the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies do a thorough investigation. That is the only way to solve the case and being those responsible to justice. The inane allegations of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, Eric Rush and Glenn Beck be damned. Will the investigation take time? Probably, especially if the attacker or attackers covered their tracks and do not want to be found in order that they can attack again.

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Such a scenario is a district possibility and could involve any group, Islamic, anti-government, anarchist, left-wing, right-wing or an individual bent on the death of innocents to satisfy their needs for retribution or vengeance. Unless they are found and caught the probability that they strike again is a real possibility. Thus it is unwise to promote speculation and conspiracy theories in the interregnum of the attack and the discovery of the actual person or persons responsible. Likewise to make allegations against the government or media simply to promote such conspiracy theories, or to counteract the possibility that their pet theory is wrong is not only unwise but dangerous.

I want the murderous terrorists responsible for this attack brought to justice, no matter who they are, foreign or domestic and irregardless of their religious, ideological or political affiliation. No matter who they are or what they believe they are murderers and terrorists. The killing of innocent civilians is criminal.

I pray that whoever did this is not an American regardless of their politics, religion or ideology. For me the thought that this could be the work of a countryman is frightening, much more so than a foreign terrorist group or government agent.

I do hope and pray that those responsible, regardless of who they are will be found and either arrested and prosecuted, or failing that killed. I have seen the results of what happens when neighbors and countrymen turn on each other both in Iraq and the Balkans and I for one do not want to see that happen here. We went through that 150 years ago during our Civil War and we still haven’t fully recovered.

That is enough for tonight.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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